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Eat these foods and lose your memory

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
What foods could help keep memory intact with aging?

What if you knew eating certain foods could lead to memory loss from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Once again the Mediterranean diet is shown to be good for the brain. Other foods can help us lose our memory with aging.

Despite evidence that some foods are inflammatory and can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s, millions insist on ingesting saturated fat from meat and dairy that also raises the risk of heart disease and obesity. In other words we continue to eat foods that are typical of a Western diet even though we know they are harmful to our health.

Largest study to date shows Mediterranean diet brain benefits

In one of the largest studies to date, researchers have linked meats with high saturated fat and dairy to cognitive declines with aging; again finding a Mediterranean diet is good for the brain.

The newest study is significant. The authors explain the most severe forms of dementia for which there is no treatment might be preventable by eating fish, chicken and salad oils with omega-3 fatty acids while avoiding meats and dairy that are high in saturated fat.

(TIP): The study does suggest eating your omega-3 fatty acids rather than taking supplements vitamins, minerals and supplements were recently found to be no help for age-related memory loss in another large investigation.

In this study, published April 30, 2013 in the print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology extracted data from the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study.

An investigation published May 2012, in the Annals of Neurology also showed women who ate a diet high in meats, cheeses and dairy scored lower on brain function tests.

The investigation includes 30,239 people ages 45 and older, enrolled between January 2003 and October 2007, who are still participating in the REGARDS study.

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The researchers reviewed the dietary habits of 7,478 African-Americans and Caucasians whose average age was 64 to see how strictly they followed a Mediterranean diet.

The participants underwent memory and thinking tests over a four-year period. Seventeen percent were diabetic.

The main findings showed that people who more strictly followed a Mediterranean diet:

• Had a 19 percent lower chance of losing memory and thinking skills
• The diet had no effect for those with diabetes
• The results were the same for African Americans and Caucasians.

Does the finding mean eating a Mediterranean diet will ensure a lifetime of good memory? Probably not, said Georgios Tsivgoulis, M.D., a neurologist with University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Athens, Greece, who explains diet is only one – though “important and modifiable” factor that can contribute to memory decline as we get older.

Other known ways to keep brain function intact with aging include:

• Avoiding tobacco - Nicotine constricts and inflames blood vessels
• Controlling high blood pressure - Hypertension leads to disease of the small blood vessels that supply blood to the brain
• Taking prescribed medications for hypertension and diabetes - Diabetes is a known risk factor for dementia from damaged blood vessels

The newest and largest study to date shows a Mediterranean diet could help preserve memory with aging. In contrast, eating the wrong food including meats and dairy with saturated fat could help us lose our ability to think and reason as we get older.

University of Alabama at Birmingham
April 29, 2013